Hi :)

I try to collect one nice cover from every country in the world, and I need YOUR HELP! Below you can browse through my collection, if you see your country is missing (or you can send me a better cover than the one I already have), please contact me :)

I prefer covers with WWF stamps, because this is my main (topical) collection. I also collect other WWF items, like local FDC / MC etc.





02/01/2009

Switzerland

Nice cover from Switzerland, with sheet commemorating the 2008 World Food Day in Bellinzona.




Focus on stamps

"Delicacies from Switzerland’s sunny south

Show them a “tassina” (little jug) of Merlot, a hunk of mountain cheese and some mortadella, and most Swiss people automatically think of sunny Canton Ticino with its grotto taverns, good food and southern joie de vivre – hence the CHF 0.85 miniature sheet depicting Ticino specialities to mark this year’s Stamp Day in Bellinzona.

Every year, southern Switzerland attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors, not least because of its tasty fare with its mixture of rustic alpine dishes and a Mediterranean food culture that was influenced by Italy’s Lombardy region, making it one of the world’s most varied cuisines. Its roots lie in what were once poor mountain valleys where, over a thousand years ago, people created natural “fridges” in rocky niches and caves, storing their cheese, sausages and wine in these ready-made larders. The first grotto eateries with granite tables, and later with boccia courts and simple dishes for locals, developed around 1600. These rocky bases from which Ticino’s gastronomy sprang can be seen in their original state in the village of Cevio in the Maggia Valley to this day.

Renaissance of the predecessor of the Merlot grape

The atmosphere in these old rock cellars conjures up times long forgotten. Sitting at one of the moss-covered granite tables, you can almost hear the voices of the villagers who once ate, drank and celebrated here. All these “sottorocci” share a close connection with the wine that used to be made much higher up the valleys where families produced their own earthy “nostrano” using an old grape variety known as “Bondola”. This original rustic wine ousted by the more refined Merlot grape a century ago is currently experiencing a renaissance, just like other tasty morsels from Ticino’s “cucina povera” (poor people’s fare).

Old is back in fashion

So, nowadays there are plenty of “new old things” to be found in Ticino, like “scmieza”, a vegetable cake from Soazza.Or the “farina bona” (browned maize flour) that people in Ticino use to prepare maize pudding, just like their grand-mothers before them. Chestnuts – once the bread of the poor – have also been rediscovered, and these highly nutritious fruits are now being roasted in the old smoking houses or “grĂ ” in the Valle di Muggio and made into chestnut soup or gnocchi (see recipe).Ticino’s southernmost valley is home to “zincarlin”, a pyramid-shaped cream cheese matured among the rocks of the Monte Generoso. And last but not least, there is “mais rosso” with its booming popularity. At one time, this red maize was the main variety in the upper part of Ticino, but then it disappeared only to be recultivated from old seeds just four years ago. And now the top restaurants just can’t get enough of this tasty “oldie”.

Ticino’s rich natural resources

The list could go on and on. As part of the process of discovering its culinary heritage, Ticino is harking back to things that are authentic and genuine. Every valley has its speciality, each of them something original that has been handed down from generation to generation. And now many of these products (like Piora cheese from the Leventina region) are in demand and are becoming increasingly costly rarities. One thing brought to light by this culinary investigation of the past is that the people of Ticino love and tend their soil. Many families have their own vineyards, make their own “nocino” (walnut liqueur), distil their own grappa and send some pigs up to higher mountain pastures in summer for slaughtering in autumn.

“He who eats well, lives well”

People from Ticino can discuss the proper seasoning for “pancetta” (dry-cured pork belly) for hours on end, and the issue of the right kind of rice and the correct stirring time for risotto can also quickly turn into a discourse on cultural history. The same applies to wine,“cicitt” (goat sausage) and “torta di pane” (bread cake), for which every family guards the “only genuine” secret recipe. This is not a matter of nostalgia but a process of awareness that is deeply rooted in the regional soul. According to the people of Ticino, “si mangia bene, si vive bene” (he who eats well, lives well). Hence the many restaurants with innovative chefs focused on skilfully combining the old and the new. The great potential of Ticino’s eating culturelies in capitalizing on its old rustic mountain roots while remaining open to new ideas."

text: Martin Weiss, author of “Urchuchi” (www.post.ch)